Over the years I’ve noticed that churches often struggle with how to effectively promote their wild game dinner. Wild game dinners that have been around for several years have built a following, but my experience is that after about 5 years, your wild game dinner is going to plateau.
A wild game dinner is a super way to build your outdoor ministry and sportsman outreach efforts. Every great movement needs rebranding from time to time; and that applies to what you do with your outdoor ministry efforts, especially when it comes to re-energizing your wild game dinner with how you tell your story in the community.
Here are 6 strategies and 1 foundational truth you can employ to boost your reach.
The 1 Foundational Truth: Motivation Is Always Better Than Information
The greatest mistake that most churches make is they use websites, flyers, radio ads, news paper print ads, and church bulletins to tell about the “event.”
Events do not motivate people. Stories do.
Whatever you do, tell a story. Talk about changed lives, not about what time the event is happening. People give you 5 seconds at the most before they check out of your promotional piece (flyer, ad, commercial, etc) – if you use that precious time to talk about the date, the place, etc – you’ve done nothing but waste money.
Your website is where they go to get information. Your promotional strategies are about motivation.
6 Strategies To Promote Your Wild Game Dinner
Emotional Print Media.
If you do choose to print ads in the local paper, use emotions, not data about the event. Print media is costly, and ineffective if you want my honest opinion, when you calculate the ROI: return on investment.
Print media is great for branding, because that’s what branding is: searing the idea of your church in someone’s mind for later return if they decide actually to go to church one day.
Look at this mock ad I created to illustrate the point. This is why motivation always trumps information.
Hunters connect through their eyes, not their brain!
If you print an ad, then make a hunter, or his wife, or his granddad that still reads the paper because younger generations don’t anymore … well make him stop and stare. Information won’t do that. Emotional pulls will. Park info and event detail on your website as the home base to which they get information.
Radio can work in small towns, but I’d only do radio if I could get it for free. Think about it . . . radio is LIVE. They have to be on that exact station for the 60 seconds you’re on it too. The chances of that are pathetic. Use radio as just one more way to get out the word about your wild game dinner, but don’t count on much return unless you pay for a honest to goodness radio campaign that actually puts your commercial out 50 times in one month over multiple listening time slots.
Piggy Back On Other Events.
I used this method like a boss almost 20 years ago when I did my first wild game dinner, and it’s worked. The thought occurred to me that other churches are in this for the same reason I was . . . to reach men. So, I approached every church in my area that was also doing a wild game dinner, operating an outdoor ministry, or doing anything possible in terms of sportsman’s outreach.
The idea was simple: let me pay for the place mats at every table at the host church’s event. We’re talking like .40 cents per paper sheet! On that place mat I had someone design a really cool hunting theme, a Scripture, and then our church’s upcoming event.
What began to happen was that partnerships developed and we started helping one another’s outdoor ministry grow together. Separate, but equal! It worked. Some churches wouldn’t do it, but many would.
Pre-Purchased Tickets From Outdoor Ministry Members.
This can be a super strategy for any outdoor ministry event or wild game dinner, if you stick to the plan. YOU MUST STICK TO THE PLAN or it will fail.
The idea is that you have your own men purchase the $5 ticket as table hosts.
8 chairs at a table x $5 ticket = $40 per table.
Your men become responsible for getting men there, and the reason this works so well is because if you offer a guy a free ticket there’s no real leverage for him to attend, because, there’s no guilt for saying “No thanks” to something that is free.
If I go up to a guy who is a buddy of mine and say,
“Hey man what are you doing March 8 at 7 pm?”
Response: Nothing I can recall.
The Offer: Ok, super, I bought you a $5 ticket, on me, no strings attached, just because I would love it if you’d come to our wild game dinner and eat some killer ribs.
The ROI on this approach is huge, but . . .
STICK TO THE PLAN.
You can’t have people just randomly inviting people because then you’re going to over-fill the event.
Facebook Ads By Zip Code And Hobby
With Facebook Ads you can literally target hunters in your zip code, even down to their age range! This is a super way to target hunters and it’s worth every penny.
You create a Facebook Ad that is set up for people who have “liked” other hunting entities, or as in they have “liked” things affiliated with hunting.
So you can attach your ad to people who have “liked” Winchester, Mossberg, Primos, Deer Hunting, George Strait, NASCAR, etc. You can assign that to a few zip codes, pick some age ranges, and you’re off and running.
I’d assign $20 per day for 20 days starting 45 days from your event. That’s $400 total on an ad buy, that went straight to hunters, in your zip code. That's specific and strategic!
A side benefit is that it will boost your outdoor ministry Facebook page as well!
Nothing Is Better Than Email.
I’m telling you, a strategic email campaign has no competitors. It goes straight to hunters in your area.
The key is that you must gather email address at every outdoor ministry event you host.
Read this piece about why email is . . .
Building an outdoor ministry is hard work. All that hard work to reach hunters needs to see some harvest.
Never forget: you can have the greatest outdoor ministry in the world and a world class wild game dinner and none of it will matter if people never hear about it.
And that’s why marketing matters.
Jason Cruise is a published author and speaker. He is the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel.
Have you seen Jason's free eBook "Being A Pastor To A Hunter?"
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